Artist: A Perfect Circle
Date: April 27, 2017
Location: Smart Financial Center, Sugar Land, TX
It’s been a minute since A Perfect Circle has performed in the Houston area, the last time being more than a decade ago. For several months, the group has been touring across the US, and Sugar Land just happened to be one of the lucky locations.
The Smart Financial Center opened this past fall and has already hosted big names such as Morrissey, Sting, and Don Henley. This was my first time to venture the venue. Most sold out concerts usually occur at places such as The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in the Woodlands or the Toyota Center located in downtown Houston.
Overall, the venue was clean, easy to navigate, and had an intimate vibe despite its size. The lighting was beautiful and serene. The only minor gripe I have is that exiting the venue had some heavy traffic. But it’s Houston, what can ya do? I think this will improve as more shows are held.
“Clever got me this far, then tricky got me in…”
After a strange, yet intriguing opening from the band Prayers, a translucent curtain fell, indicating the time to refill drinks and relax. (Tip: the drinks are expensive. You’re better off pre-gaming at home or a bar, then getting an Uber). In between sets, security was sure to point out that all recording devices were prohibited, or else you would be escorted out of the venue. Unfortunately, this happened to a local radio show host. Womp.
At exactly 9 pm, the lights died. Shadows were illuminated from behind the secretive curtain. The simplistic and melancholic opening chord of “The Package” began strumming from James Iha’s fingertips. And just as Keenan grunts, “Give this to me,” with his hand reaching toward his right, the curtain falls, revealing the Perfect Circle of a musical group.
I was ecstatic to see Iha play, as I am also a huge Smashing Pumpkins fan and never got to see him while he was in that group. He did not disappoint.
Although it had been previously announced that they would not perform “Judith” on this tour, APC still satisfied the audience with other well known tracks such as “The Noose” and a remix of “3 Libras.” Other recognizable songs came from their covers of “Imagine” and “People Are People.” I must admit I was anticipating the cover of Gaye’s “What’s Goin On,” but was completely astounded by the execution of the other two. You can’t go wrong with Lennon or Depeche Mode.
If you’ve seen any performance frontman Maynard James Keenan has been a part of, you know he loathes people who perpetually use their phones and cameras throughout the show. Keenan is also known for his reclusiveness, frequently not showing his face or even talking. After seeing Tool in January 2016, I would say that Keenan was more social during this tour. He was even a bit comedic, as he held a Shakeweight and joked that he had to “get in [his] workout.” Adding to this bit, he treated the Shakeweight as if it were male genitalia and opened his mouth as he “shook” the device towards himself. Some may have been confused by this act, but it was not surprising to fellow MJK fans. To each, his own…
The entire set was artwork. Each song led perfectly to the next. I was able to appreciate both the music and lyrics being performed, as it conduced me toward a peaceful state. I’m sure this also had to do with the fact that I wasn’t watching the show through my phone screen (which I try not to do anyway). When you can actually engage yourself with the artists performing, you are able to connect to their art on an entirely different level. And perhaps, this is Keenan’s purpose.
I believe that when you go to a show, you should be able to leave with something other than the ability to say, “Oh, what a fun show.” Instead, it is much more fulfilling to leave saying, “Wow, I feel completely rejuvenated and inspired.” Although I’m no musician by any means, I still felt a spark of creativity ignited within me. I wanted to paint, take pictures, write, read, everything… all from one show.
So glad to see you well, APC.
“Weak and Powerless”
“Imagine” (John Lennon cover)
“By and Down”
“People Are People” (Depeche Mode cover)
“Thinking of You”
“Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums”
“3 Libras (All Main Courses Mix)
Favorite performances: “The Noose,” “Magdalena,” “Rose,” and “Thinking of You.”